Beginner Brewer - About to attempt first Lambic Style

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Aoiree

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Hi hi!

New brewer here! First post, been lurking here and other places reading and digesting for the better part of 4-5 months now in preparation.

Plan to brew my first batch of lambic-style beer this weekend. Going to be making 15 gallons in two boils what feels like a fairly big batch, so cheers to being probably overly ambitious but also trying to keep things simple with just an extract recipe. Attempting a variant inspired from the tried-and-true AmandaK's extract lambic recipe, honestly no idea what to expect it'll turn out but hopefully decent and maybe I'll learn things.

Love to get some of your thoughts/advice from the experienced brewers. I'll try to keep updating this thread over time as stuff progresses and add some photos.

Recipe for 15 gallons (Which I'm splitting evenly into 2 boils):
6 lb Briess Golden Light DME + 3 lb Muntons Plain Light DME
9 lb Muntons Plain Wheat DME
12 oz Maltodextrin
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Hops: 6oz Aged Yakima Valley Lambic hop pellets (split into 2 batches):
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Yeast + Bugs:
Safale-05 (1 or 2 packets? Maybe some bread yeast? -- See note)
WLP653 - Brettanomyces Lambicus
WLP672 - Lactobacillus Brevis
+ a variety of dregs (Cuvee Renee, Ommegang, Wicked Weed, Paradox and/or others... saved some dregs but also depends what I decide to open this weekend & when I move to secondary)
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Have a 10 gallon kettle so I plan to split the boil into two batches.
-Primary in a 20 gallon HDPE-2 Food Safe barrel (used to contain beer clarifier!... although I'm told it had a liner and I've thoroughly rinsed and oxi-cleaned it multiple times so /shrug)
-Secondary into a 15 gallon HDPE-2 Food Safe barrel... probably add some oak.


Pitching plan... and inviting opinions:
  • Planning to pitch all the yeast + bugs at once.... or MAYBE give the Lacto a 24 hour head start at slightly higher temperature... but I'm really hoping for Brett emphasis, not necessarily after the tart/acidity.
  • Might pitch just one packet of Safale-05 in 15 gallons to promote stressing it to produce more esters for the brett to clean up later (esp since Safale-05 is a low phenols strain). Also under pitching the sachh might give the lacto more time do do work but /shrug... some worries if the sacch won't grow enough if severely under pitched and fighting with lacto.
  • Also debating to either supplement with, or even to purely use, Fleischmann Bread Yeast as I'm to understand it's a PoF+ sacch strain (and can produce passable Belgian style beer on its own). Theorizing a "messy" PoF+ sacch might be great to promote emphasis of the brett characteristics down the line. Also I don't feel like driving 2 hours to pick up some other sacch PoF+ strains at this point. I want plan to brew this weekend and I have a ton of bread yeast on hand from baking.
  • Regardless from my reading I have to imagine the brett + any pedio from dregs will overtime clean up anything any low attenuation or off flavors from under pitching the safale-05 and/or usage of the bread yeast... Thoughts? For science?

Will be curious to see how the yeast activity heats up 15 gallons, will be monitoring temps to see if I need any interventions to lower (or raise) temps. Normally I'd keep it in our basement but instead it'll be in our (partially-condtioned) garage to avoid the need to move 15 gallons up or down flights of stairs if we sell our house and move (which is risk in the near future). The less I have to move 130lb of fermenting beer the better but will be keeping an eye on it. Might spur me into converting m

Background on my yeast + bugs selection:
Was looking for but couldn't find wyeast lambic blend in any of the 3 homebrew shops within 2 hours (round trip) from me but I could find and grabbed some of the (likely) base components (no one had pedio in stock.)
But now that I have these vials need to use them! ...for science!

Future plans:
I have a second 15 gallon barrel that I plan to actually follow do AmandaK's recpie in and will get some wyeast lambic blend shipped.
For 15 gallons think 1x vial of wyeast3278 will be appropriate or should I be looking to double up or supplement in any fashion? Assuming it's good as is for something this size and a starter just promotes more sacch and throws balance out of whack anyway, which is probably what happens as soon as I pitch it regardless so I'll probably not worry too much about that.

Also I'll probably NOT use the cake from the first batch for the second batch just to keep both of these brews more distinct so I can compare one against the other. That being said is there any worthwhile way of saving yeast cake that isn't too involved for a beginner like me, otherwise I won't worry about it.

With some luck I'll have 30 gallons of lambic aging properly to start a mixed ferment pipeline for drinking/continuous aging/fruiting/blending over years to come. I'll likely be picking up some more food safe barrels and PET carboys down the line as I start siphoning beer out of the 15 gallon containers to drink/blend/fruit/etc.

I'll probably look to add 10-20 gallons to the pipeline annually depending on usage/gifting/competitions/my tastes/etc.
 
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Aoiree

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Brewed! Two batches combined to about an OG of 1.055ish. Went with Fleischmann Bread Yeast (cuz why not....)

Yeast shot off hard, fermenting strong within an hour. People have accounted Fleischmann is belgian-like and apparently it's aggressive like belgian yeast!

Within 3 hours was exploding out of the airlock. Mind you there is 5 gallons of headspace in this thing!
PXL_20201027_070208072.jpg



Tried setting up a blow-off tube but none of my tubing was wide enough to not get clogged and were just causing strong pressure build ups.

After attempting to mcguyver various airlocks ended up sanitizing some foil and just crafting a funnel to direct the froth away from the bung and over the side to make it harder for stuff to sneak in. Plus it was 3-4am and I needed some sleep and didn't want to worry about the fermenter blowing from pressure while I slept. So long as it' was still out gassing hard I wasn't going to worry too too much.

PXL_20201027_102845595.jpg


Woke up to a messy floor and this foam monstrosity.

Cleaned it up. Eventually had the bright idea to look up what FermCapS was and if there's any "DIY" alternatives and found out it's just Gas-X. Lucky for me cuz a friend of mine left some gas-x here years ago from a Thanksgiving long forgot (and I have no FermCapS).

Emptied 4 Gas-X soft gels into a small amount of boiling water and added it to the fermenter.

Been a few hours but look like it's holding well! Nice and clean but still very active.

PXL_20201027_163324286.jpg


Still aggressively gassing but gassing clean! Make-shifted my 3-piece airlock into a 5 piece airlock by filling the lid with star-san and throwing a quart container over it.

Hopefully smooth sailing the rest of the way.


TIL buy some FermCapS and some wider tubes for better blow off systems.

Note: Pitched at roughly 69degrees, currently at roughly 73 degrees.
 
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sweetcell

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cool project, brah. random thoughts:

- i wouldn't be too fixated on Wyeast 3278. cell counts are low, and the LAB in there isn't very robust. i would look into ordering a better bug mix online if your local shops can't hook you up with something from The Yeast Bay, Omega, Imperial Yeast (Sour Batch Kidz), East Coast Yeast, etc... much better options than anything from Wyeast or White Labs, IMO.
- one pouch of Wyeast 3278 would not be enough for batch #2. the manufacturer recommends 1 pouch per 5 gallons. i recommend zero :D
- " any worthwhile way of saving yeast cake that isn't too involved for a beginner like me" here's what i do: save some slurry/cake in a small mason/ball jar. top up with some of the associated sour beer. screw lid 90% on - don't tighten too much, you want CO2 to have an escape path. store in fridge until needed.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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Fresh East Coast Yeast available here - I've used BugFarm, BugFarm2 and BugCountry so far with awesome results.

I just got an email the other day from Bootleg Biology saying they just got restocked, available here

And there are a few strains are still available from The Yeast Bay. I've never used their yeast and can't ever seem to time it right to get a package of Melange.

Best of luck, keep us posted. Cheers!
 
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Aoiree

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Oh man next time I'm in NJ I'll try to hit up East Coast Yeast in person. Not too far from some of my family.

Will do. Beer happily fermenting peacefully right now.
 

Snark_Wolf_Brewing

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Whatever you do, DO NOT USE THE SAME EQUIPMENT YOU BREWED YOUR LAMBIC WITH FOR OTHER BREWS! This includes, fermenters, hoses, airlocks, buckets, siphons, etc, etc. Lambic yeasts are extremely hard to kill, no matter how much you try and sterilize or sanitize, and anything else you brew will become infected.
 

sweetcell

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Oh man next time I'm in NJ I'll try to hit up East Coast Yeast in person. Not too far from some of my family.
ECY doesn't sell yeast directly, at least not that i'm aware of. you need to go to fermentednj.com or love2brew.com in North Brunswick. i'm a huge fan of ECY. a single bottle of Bug Farm or Bug County is probably enough for 15 gallons, they pack a TON of cells in there.
 

dawn_kiebawls

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a single bottle of Bug Farm or Bug County is probably enough for 15 gallons, they pack a TON of cells in there.

I'll vouch for this. I have 2 vials remaining that are (embarrassingly and shamefully) 8 months old and they still chew through 5 gallons of 1.050 wort REAL quick. Wonderful yeasts, I'd order some while it's available since fermentednj only restocks twice a year!

for my last remaining 2 vials I'm going to do little 1.035 table sours so I can hopefully harvest some less stressed yeast. Cheers!

Edit: My vials say they contain 350 billion cells. Which, mine certainly contain quite a bit less due to age but they work just fine. Maybe I'll do a starter next time, since I'm now a little paranoid about age 🤔
 
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Aoiree

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Man they're already selling out. Will look to order something hopefully.
 

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I've been brewing sour beer for about a decade and WY3278 is my go-to for sour beer. I don't think there is anything magical about it for brewing lambic-like beer. The dig on it has always been that it doesn't make blisteringly sour beer but the reason I like it is it doesn't make blisteringly sour beer. I've never had a problem generating sourness with it but if you're after that AWA 3.0 ph it isn't the best option. If you want the softer sourness and more robust flavor common to a lot of lambic and some of the better AWAs IMO there isn't a better option. Just depends on what you want, really.
 

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There are some established methods to coax out more brett funk. Don't spare on hops - not for IBUs, just for the aromatic and flavor contributions. This is why aged (low alpha) hops are used traditionally. You can add them in the mash even. Over time the hop character will fade (including bitterness), but the funk will shine. Using a generous portion of wheat in the grist helps too. Lastly, delay the brett pitch at least a few days if possible, give the sacch time to generate some of the esters and phenolic metabolic pathways for brett funk to develop.
 
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Aoiree

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Transferred to secondary last weekend, looks like I lost about 3+ gallons to excessive out-foaming + natural evaporation.

Smelled kinda fruity through airlock throughout.
Tasted extremely dry, bit of citrus peel flavor bit of pine needle.
Not expected but not bad. Zero typical brett character noted thus far.

Topped up with some sanitized water to keep up with this batch being the "WING IT" batch I also topped up with a buncha water that I steeped oatmeal in to reintroduce some sugars/malto for the brett and since I didn't want to backfill that many gallons with just water into my secondary container.

<<Took pics - incoming at a later time.>>
 
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Aoiree

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PXL_20201206_232333570.jpg PXL_20201207_031242784.jpg PXL_20201206_232330381.jpg

Pictures from the transfer. Apparently didn't take photos of the oatmeal water I added.

Took a sample last weekend roughly 2.25 months in.
Still very dry.
Still very piney with a little citrus zest.
Zero brett character so far.

Might add some fresh dregs next time I sample. Oatmeal water gave it a creamy mouthfeel which is a bit weird.

Otherwise letting it roll. Starting the second batch sometime in the not too distant future.
 

pursuit0fhoppiness

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Don't expect good Brett character anytime soon, it takes 8+ months usually. Just set it and forget it for a while, don't need to sample frequently if you're not planning to package for many months (which is advised). I do recommend adding dregs of sour/funky beers you really enjoy though, good to add some microbial diversity and hearty bugs in there.
 
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Aoiree

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~310 Day update(!):

Batch still rolling. Have done a few dreg additions of things I've liked over the months, trying to avoid adding more now and to just let it do it's own thing. Also added some oak spiral a few months ago which I neglected to add earlier.


Sampled ~4 times in the last 8 months... twice just recently. 2 months while adding dregs saw that it formed a pellicle.

Recent sample (after pellicle formation) finally smelled like something I'd get excited for if I popped a bottle to that smell. Overly pine-y taste has subsided and some complexity starting to come out. Overall excited to watch this guy keep doing its thing until I figure out what I'm doing with it.


Probably moving sooner or later so I haven't started the 2nd 15 gallons batch to age/blend along side this first batch yet. Moving house with 15 gallons of liquid is going to be hard enough.
 
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Aoiree

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Current status, I have ~15 gallons of psuedo-lambic aged 1 year in a 15gallon blue HDPE-2 barrel.

So if I wanted to siphon off and bottle 5 gallons and leave 10 gallons sitting what's the best way to do this?

Rack 5 gallons off to be bottled and...
  1. ... leave 10 gallons in the 15 gallon HDPE Barrel with extra headspace. Assume not great plan.
  2. ... rack the remaining 10 gallons into two separate 5 gallon buckets and/or PET carboys? I forget how air permeability is for these for long term ages... my memory says there is reason to be concerned.
  3. ... go find some other thick walled 10gallon HDPE-2 container and rack it into there?
  4. ... just bottle it all and leave nothing aging for another year to blend. (Not opposed to this)

Would it be worth getting some CO2 to help push out O2 while racking? Not sure how quckly it's making its own C02 after a year, even if I added some fresh sugars or something for it to chew.

Thanks community!
 
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sweetcell

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Current status, I have ~15 gallons of psuedo-lambic aged 1 year in a 15gallon blue HDPE-2 barrel.

So if I wanted to siphon off and bottle 5 gallons and leave 10 gallons sitting what's the best way to do this?

Rack 5 gallons off to be bottled and...
  1. ... leave 10 gallons in the 15 gallon HDPE Barrel with extra headspace. Assume not great plan.
  2. ... rack the remaining 10 gallons into two separate 5 gallon buckets and/or PET carboys? I forget how air permeability is for these for long term ages... my memory says there is reason to be concerned.
  3. ... go find some other thick walled 10gallon HDPE-2 container and rack it into there?
  4. ... just bottle it all and leave nothing aging for another year to blend. (Not opposed to this)

Would it be worth getting some CO2 to help push out O2 while racking? Not sure how quckly it's making its own C02 after a year, even if I added some fresh sugars or something for it to chew.

Thanks community!
i would go with option #2, but only with the PET carboys (or glass if you have it). buckets are too leaky. leave as little headspace as possible. option #3 would be good too, just takes more effort (and likely expense).
 
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Aoiree

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Went with sweetcell's suggestion of #2. But just racked 5 gallons for longer storage and bottled 10. I now need a new bottling wand and bottle bucket for my non-sours (yay more stuff!).

11/22/21
Pulled and carbed one sample bottle with a wine thief and added some table sugar and a tiny bit of champagne yeast.
WhatsApp Image 2021-11-22 at 7.55.06 PM.jpeg

12/3/21
Popped and drank the sample bottle at a friend's wedding and was happy enough with the results. Kind of reminded me of some of the more session-able Hill Farmstead brews. Samplers (myself included) were not very sober at the time so I'm curious to try again.


12/20/21
Racked 5 gallons to a PET Carboy.
Bottled 10 gallons (Should have waited 2 more days for the palindrome brew date of 12/22/21)
Carbed to an expected 2.5~2.6 vols (table sugar and champagne yeast)

Filled:
40x 750ml bottles (lots of Cuvee Rene, Hill Farmstead, Duchesse de Bourgogne, + misc bottles)
6x 500ml bottles
7x 375ml bottles (12.7oz)
4x ~355ml bottles (12oz) - Lots of yeasty sediment in these bottles, they'll be just for me.

Mixture of caps and plastic champagne corks + cages. Used every last thicker glass bottle I had saved up.
Hoping everything carbs up appropriately.


3 of my 750ml bottles wouldn't take a bottlecap and the necks were too long for any of my cages (couldn't get below the lip).
Got creative:
WhatsApp Image 2021-12-20 at 11.24.23 PM.jpeg
Made some duct-tape "cages" for the corks.


Transfered some of the yeast cake and oak dowels/chips into some mason jars to save for another batch potentially. Didn't add any yeast cake into the 5 gallon PET carboy. May just pitch more bottle dregs into there to add some fresher bugs.
 

mashpaddled

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It's been a while but when I started brewing sour beer I used those plastic corks on 750s. I will say that virtually all the bottles held carbonation. I would find some bottles where the cork didn't seem to keep a good seal and I wouldn't use the plastic corks on them. Those bottles are slightly differently sized in the neck which wouldn't be an issue with a cap or wood cork but plastic doesn't expand like wood corks. I had bottles I opened more than five years down the road and still held carbonation. You'll probably get people telling you that was a mistake but as long as you were judicious with cutting out any bottles that didn't form a good seal you should be fine.

On the duct tape ones they will probably be fine especially if the plastic corks took some work to get in the bottle. Alternatively you can create cages out of thin twine--there is a special way to knot it that is traditional to sparkling winemaking.

The five gallons you split off will be fine without any additional culture added. The beer will be full of occupants--way more than any dregs you might add from a measly 750 or 500ml bottle.
 
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Aoiree

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One bottle definitely would not hold, a handful of bottles were so tight that the some of the plastic ribs on the corks sheared off... curious what happens with those.

Still need to figure out what I'm doing with those 5 gallons eventually.
 

mashpaddled

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One bottle definitely would not hold, a handful of bottles were so tight that the some of the plastic ribs on the corks sheared off... curious what happens with those.

Still need to figure out what I'm doing with those 5 gallons eventually.

In my experience you will have a fun time pulling them out but they beer will be ok.
 
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